Barry Mazur

National Medal of Science

Mathematics And Computer Science

For original and landmark contributions to differential topology, number theory, and arithmetic algebraic geometry, where, among other applications, his work was foundational to Wiles proof of Fermats Last Theorem, and for his dedication to communicating subtle mathematical ideas to the broader public.

For original and landmark contributions to differential topology, number theory, and arithmetic algebraic geometry, where, among other applications, his work was foundational to Wiles proof of Fermats Last Theorem, and for his dedication to communicating subtle mathematical ideas to the broader public.

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Birth
December 19, 1937
Age Awarded
74
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Eilenberg–Mazur swindle
Mazur's Torsion Theorem
Awarded by
Barack Obama
Education
Princeton University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Areas of Impact
Theory & Foundations
Affiliations
Harvard University
B

Barry Mazur’s love of mathematics was sparked by a simple curiosity in electronics. As a young boy, he wanted to know  the connection between a radio transmitter and a home receiver.

Numbers, he thought, might explain it. He recalled his father nurturing his love for mathematics, posing questions to him about numbers and equations.

Decades later, Mazur’s pioneering work has led to new ideas in number theory. The curiosity he had as a youngster remains.

“You have to be so strongly motivated to know the answer,’’ he said of his work.

Born in New York City, Mazur attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a doctorate in mathematics from Princeton University in 1959. His early emphasis was on topology, but that soon gave way to number theory, the study of the properties and relationships of integers. Mazur has become one of the world’s leading numbers theorists.

Mazur, who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1982, joined the faculty at Harvard in 1962. He is a recipient of the Steele Prize from the American Mathematical Society, in addition to numerous other awards.

By Bob Warren

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